Landmark Report Documents Stark Challenges of Older Adults Living with HIV in San Francisco

Recommends Strategies to Improve Policy, Care, and Services

65% of people living with HIV in San Francisco are age 50 and older; nationally, more than 50% of people with HIV are age 50 and older

Full copy of the report: https://bit.ly/2AhRvJV

San Francisco, CA—Older adults living with HIV in San Francisco face staggeringly high rates of mental health issues and levels of loneliness, as well as experience a dire need for regular social connections and health care coordination, according to a landmark new report by the ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging at GMHC released Sunday.

The report, issued as the first part of the multi-site Research on Older Adults with HIV (ROAH) 2.0 project, demonstrates in stark terms that living with HIV as an older adult presents a unique set of challenges—and requires a complex set of coordinated solutions. More than 50% of all people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older, and by 2020, 65-70% of people living with HIV will be age 50 and older.

“While there is increased awareness that there is a critical need for both more services for, and more research about, older adults living with and affected by HIV, our nation is not fully prepared for the medical and social implications of the growth of this population,” said Stephen Karpiak, PhD, Senior Director for Research for the ACRIA Centers at GMHC and a Co-Principal Investigator of ROAH 2.0. “We hope that the fresh insights from this timely study—which come just as adults age 50 and over are becoming the majority of all people with HIV in the United States—will inspire action to address the many challenges older adults with HIV face.”

In San Francisco, where 65% of people living with HIV are age 50 or over and the cost of living is among the highest in the country, the need to know more about older adults with HIV is particularly pressing.  Though most participants reported that their HIV is well managed and that their health is “excellent” or “good,” 41% reported that their health is “fair,” “poor,” or “very poor.” They also reported a high burden of physical symptoms and diseases other than HIV.

Furthermore, survey participants said that they contend with hunger, low income, and burdensome housing costs. Many also said they lack ways to get help with the activities of daily living or care should they fall sick or be injured.

The findings of the report underline the importance of providing older adults with HIV with medical services guided by the principles of geriatric medicine (an approach tailored to the complex needs of older adults with multiple chronic conditions, e.g., multimorbidity and associated risks of polypharmacy), enhanced access to mental health treatment and social support, trauma-informed care that acknowledges the repercussions of a history of trauma and avoids re-traumatization, and programs to help ease the financial burden of living in a high-cost city on a low fixed income.

Other notable findings in the San Francisco ROAH 2.0 study include:

  • Rates of depression and PTSD were extremely high: 38% of participants scored as having moderate to severe depression and 35% scored as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using conservative criteria. About half (51%) of the participants reported childhood sexual abuse.

  • Participants show a high prevalence of multimorbidity (having two or more chronic illnesses). They report a heavy burden of illness and physical symptoms: On average, they reported experiencing seven symptoms or diseases besides HIV in the past year. Data shows that the older adult with HIV is evidencing higher rates of illnesses typically associated with aging (cancers, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes). Multimorbidity is associated with elevated risk for polypharmacy.

  • Three-quarters of participants said their needs for emotional support were not fully met, and just over one-fifth said they needed “a lot more social support.”

  • The most frequent need among participants (and the need that was most often unmet) was having opportunities to socialize or meet others.

  • Nearly 60% of the participants reported that their housing costs account for about half, or more than half, of their income.  

  • A brief assessment showed that 19% of participants were food insecure (meaning they have uncertain or insufficient access to food) and 25% experienced both food insecurity and hunger.

The full study, a successor to a pivotal ACRIA study of 1,000 older adults with HIV in New York City in 2006, will ultimately include almost 3,000 older adults living with HIV in sites across the United States, including New York City, Upstate New York, Chicago, and Alameda County (the East Bay), as well as San Francisco. Results will help social researchers and care providers across the country develop more services geared specifically toward people living with HIV who are over the age of 50.

“GMHC is committed to being a national leader in the study of older adults living with HIV as we all start to fully grasp the enormity of the challenges faced by the 50-and-over population living with HIV,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. “We hope that service organizations across the country will start to use these findings as they develop services and interventions designed to help this population. Since entering into a strategic partnership with ACRIA in 2017, GMHC has redoubled its efforts to work collaboratively with our older adult communities, launching the Terry Brenneis Hub for Long-Term Survivors earlier this year, relaunching GMHC’s pivotal Buddy Program, and using new data to better tailor our services. We look forward to shepherding more vital research that will help us provide the best possible holistic care for our older clients.”

For a full copy of the report, visit: https://bit.ly/2AhRvJV

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Media Contacts:

Cub Barrett: VP, Communications and Public Affairs, GMHC: CubB@gmhc.org

Stephen Karpiak, PhD: Research Director, ACRIA Centers at GMHC: StephenK@gmhc.org

Rebecca Erenrich, MPH: Senior Research and Community Engagement Coordinator, ACRIA Centers at GMHC: RebeccaE@gmhc.org

About GMHC

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 13,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health, and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state, and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.

About the ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging at GMHC

The ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging at GMHC seeks to address the unique needs and challenges that older adults living with HIV face as they age. ACRIA’s seminal 2006 Research on Older Adults with HIV (ROAH) Study established ACRIA as a leader in research on HIV and aging. The Center conducts qualitative and quantitative research to create an evidence base to advance the formulation of policy, advocacy, and program development. Through research, education, and advocacy, the Center fosters the open exchange and dissemination of information from scientific communities to AIDS service providers and older adults living with HIV. In 2017 ACRIA entered into a strategic partnership with GMHC, the world’s first HIV/AIDS service organization, to create a new and innovative kind of service, research, and policy organization.

10,000 People participate in AIDS Walk San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 15, 2018) – Ten thousand people gathered together on Sunday in Golden Gate Park for the 32nd annual AIDS Walk San Francisco (AWSF), both in support of people living with HIV/AIDS and to defend the dignity and equality of vulnerable populations everywhere.

Walkers raised $1.814 million this year in support of ACRIA, PRC, and Project Open Hand, as well as dozens of other Bay Area HIV/AIDS service organizations.

“AIDS Walk San Francisco provides us with the opportunity to not only show our support for those affected by HIV/AIDS, but to bring attention to the fact that people living with HIV/AIDS need unique services—especially as they age,” said Kelsey Louie, Executive Director of ACRIA. “We’re grateful that so many Bay Area folks came out to support the Walk, and that they continue to support the dozens of organizations throughout the region that are helping people make real progress in their lives.”

The 10-kilometer Walk took place entirely within Golden Gate Park, with the start and finish lines at Robin Williams Meadow.

The day began with the Macy’s Star Walker and VIP Breakfast, followed by the Macy’s Aerobic Warm-Up from the main stage led by fitness celebrity Bethany Meyers. At the Opening Ceremony, celebrities included Barrett Foa (NCIS: Los Angeles), Nico Tortorella (Younger), Dale Soules (Orange is the New Black), and longtime supporter ABC-7 news anchor Dan Ashley. Mezzo-soprano Alexandra Urquiola performed “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and Broadway veteran Leslie McDonel sang “Brave” and “Your Song” to inspire the participants before they stepped off.

At the Post-Walk Show, co-hosted by Nico Tortorella, Bethany Meyers, and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alexis Michelle, participants were treated to performances by renowned R&B artist Deborah Cox; RuPaul’s Drag Race stars The Vixen, Milk, Delta Work, and ChiChi DeVayne; and Dan Ashley. Walk participants filled Robin Williams Meadow, and folks who raised $200 or more enjoyed access to an exclusive VIP lounge.

Since 1987, AWSF has raised more than $90 million for a variety of Bay Area HIV/AIDS care, prevention services, and advocacy organizations and has long been Northern California’s largest AIDS fundraising event.

The Walk’s three lead beneficiaries are all working to end AIDS in the Bay Area and beyond. ACRIA’s research and advocacy programs focus on older adults living with HIV, studying their unique needs and determining the services they need to thrive. PRC connects people affected by HIV/AIDS, substance use issues , or mental health issues to social and health services to help them live healthier lives. And Project Open Hand’s mission is to nourish and engage the Bay Area community by providing meals to the sick and elderly.

The Premier Sponsor of AIDS Walk San Francisco 2018 is Gilead. The Walk’s Grand Sponsors are ABC7 and Quest Diagnostics. Major sponsors include Gap, Kaiser Permanente, Levi Strauss, The Examiner, and SF Weekly. Principal Sponsors are BIO-RAD, Chevron, ViiV Healthcare, Team Cannabis, and Wells Fargo. Supporting Sponsors are Marriot San Francisco Marquis and Williams Sonoma California. Event Sponsors are A Black Tie Affair, Adobe, Ellie Mae, Jones Day, Recology, and Seyfarth Shaw. The Co-Chair Supporting Sponsor is Baker McKenzie.
 

ACRIA & Saks Fifth Avenue host luncheon for Leap for Girls

ACRIA’s Executive Director Benjamin Bashein, Saks Fifth Avenue SVP & Fashion Director Roopal Patel, and Julia Sherman, author of Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists, hosted an intimate luncheon celebrating ACRIA's Leadership Empowerment and Awareness Program (LEAP) for Girls. Part of ACRIA’s newly launched Love Heals Youth Education Program, LEAP for Girls trains a new generation of community educators and activists in East Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the Bronx—NYC communities of color experiencing the highest incidence of HIV. LEAP for Girls equips young women by strengthening their leadership abilities—including public speaking, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills—and educating them about self-esteem, HIV prevention, and sexual health. To date, over 650 young women have graduated from LEAP for Girls who, have in turn reached nearly 15,000 of their peers through community action projects. Additionally, by supporting LEAP for Girls alumnae as they go off to college (and they are often the first in their family to do so) the program helps young women strengthen their sense of self. ACRIA’s expansion into the important field of youth education began in 2017 with the acquisition of Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education.

The three-course menu at this exciting first-ever event focused on seasonal salads and was designed by Julia Sherman, multimedia artist, photographer, blogger and, most recently, author of the newly published cookbook Salad For President: A Cookbook Inspired By Artists (Abrams Books, May 2017) containing more than 75 recipes with contributions and interviews by artists and creative professionals like William Wegman, Tauba Auerbach, Laurie Anderson, and Alice Waters. To learn more visit saladforpresident.com. 

To see more images of the event, click here
 

ACRIA Welcomes the Legendary Dionne Warwick as our Goodwill Ambassador

We are delighted to announce that legendary entertainer, Dionne Warwick, has partnered with ACRIA to increase public awareness about the devastating impact of HIV on people over 50, especially African American women. Her public service announcements (PSAs) bring a new and important focus on women and HIV, the use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and older adults and HIV.

 

Ms. Warwick has been a leader in the fight against HIV for 30 years and was among the first celebrities to publicly announce her support for efforts to combat the disease. Her PSAs for ACRIAcoincide with Women's History Month and the annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

"Through the release of these PSAs, I am honored to join forces with ACRIA and thousands of fellow AIDS activists across the country who are renewing efforts to raise awareness, develop public policies, and target funding to support HIV prevention, treatment and care," said Ms. Warwick. "Despite great progress in scientific research and prevention, HIV continues to exact a heavy toll on communities of color, including adults over the age of 50 and African American women, who are too often forgotten in this epidemic."

"We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Warwick as ACRIA's Goodwill Ambassador and recognize her steadfast leadership in the fight against HIV," said Benjamin Bashein, Executive Director. "Ms. Warwick embraced HIV/AIDS activism at a time when stigma against the disease was at its worst, when most public figures refused to associate their names and celebrity with the cause. We are truly excited about her participation in our work to educate millions of Americans, anew, about HIV, and by so doing, prevent its transmission."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV as of 2015, and 50% are estimated to be over the age of 50. By 2020, that number will rise to 70%. Although many older adults do not believe that they are susceptible to HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection, one in six new cases of HIV infection occurs in people over 50 years old. Older adults are also less likely to get tested for HIV.

In addition, women account for almost 20% of the estimated 45,000 new HIV infections that occur each year in the U.S. Among all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 62% were African American women.

JASON WU TALKS ART, AUCTIONS AND AIDS AWARENESS

In 1991 a group of activists, doctors, and people with HIV formed the first community-driven coalition with the goal of studying new treatments for the disease: Twenty-five years later, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) has helped develop 20 different medicines approved by the FDA and continues to make advances in the field. Tonight, ACRIA joins forces with the fashion, art, and design worlds for its 23rd annual Unframed auction to benefit the Artists Ending AIDS Fund. The event at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, is chaired by fashion icon Jason Wu, who has long been involved with ACRIA' s mission to provide support and education to communities suffering from or at risk for the disease. We spoke with the designer about his involvement with the group, his interest in art, and his thoughts on the auction. 
 

Architectural Digest: How did you get involved with ACRIA? 
Jason Wu: My relationship with ACRIA formed very organically. I am very passionate about their mission of education and furthering understanding of the newest developments in the fight against AIDS. I am very pleased that we have ACRIA as a platform for New York's creative communities to be more engaged with this issue.

AD: What's the relationship between the art, fashion, and design worlds and HIV research? 
JW: The Unframed auction has been an event that, for the past 23 years, has brought together some of the most influential artists and designers for a cause that we truly believe in. Many of us, including myself, believe that activism through art is important, and Unframed is an outlet that allows us to come together to maintain progress in HIV research.

AD: Where do you go to buy art? 
JW: In New York the Gagosian Gallery always has really interesting and provocative exhibitions. 

AD: What do you look for when buying art? 
JW: I usually gravitate toward pieces that trigger an immediate inspiration. I particularly like works by Cy Twombly.

AD: What's one of the most unusual places you've ever bought great art? 
JW: I was vacationing in Uruguay, staying at Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio. In my suite was this great artwork by local artist Marcelo Legrand. The Estancia staff actually arranged a visit for me to meet Marcelo! I had to have one of his ink murals, which is now in my New York studio-it's quite the souvenir.

AD: What are some of your favorite works that you own? 
JW: A 2016 Hunt Slonem oil-on-wood painting. I had the opportunity to meet Hunt, and I was enthralled by his wild array of paintings, sculptures, and his remarkable studio. 

AD: Did any of the works in the auction surprise you? What's one work you' re really excited about? 
JW: This year's works are all so incredibly strong. I was definitely moved by Costa Vece' s collages; there's something subtle yet striking about them. As far as work I'm excited about, I think Glenn Ligon is an exceptional artist who not only creates inspiring works but also has proven to be an extremely important cultural voice. I'm thrilled that Unframed will be exhibiting his fantastic work this year.

AD: What is the importance of charity auctions? 
JW: Charity auctions, especially Unframed, act as a way to benefit these organizations that better our society while also offering an occasion to come together and celebrate some of the best contemporary artists. This year's participants have been so generous in donating their works to continue progress in HIV research. I'm delighted to be part of this event, and I am looking forward to seeing ACRIA maintain this progress. As artists and designers, the best thing we can do is create work that can in turn give back to the community. 

ACRIA BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTS BENJAMIN BASHEIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

NEW YORK CITY -- ACRIA’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Benjamin Bashein as the organization’s Executive Director. Mr. Bashein had been serving as Acting Executive Director following the departure of Daniel Tietz in June.

Mr. Bashein joined ACRIA as Director of Development & Communications in 2007, supervising all of the organization’s fundraising, marketing communications and public relations activities; and when he assumed the Deputy Executive Director role in 2012 his portfolio was expanded to include finance, operations, and strategic planning. “With over seven years in leadership roles at ACRIA, Benjamin is uniquely qualified to oversee the organization,” noted Stewart Shining, President of the ACRIA Board. “During his tenure, he has played a key role in tripling ACRIA’s budget, diversifying its sources of funding, and strengthening its role in the HIV community. The Board of Directors and I are deeply confident in his ability to ensure the organization’s continued success in the groundbreaking HIV research, education, and advocacy for which it is known.”

In his new capacity as Executive Director, Mr. Bashein will provide programmatic management, as well as organization-wide direction and strategic vision to advance ACRIA’s mission.

Press Inquiries: 
Sarah Ogden, Development Manager, (212) 924-3934 ext. 104, sogden@acria.org